Have you ever been in a situation when you’ve craved a washcloth? Mopping up spills, removing a combination of trail dust and perspiration, wiping away mango juice after a messy but satisfying treat – these and a host of other scenarios require just the right solution for people on the move. I have one for you: travel with tablet towels. For the packing light traveller, tablet towels are a perfect travel aid.

What are tablet towels

About the size of a couple of Life Saver candies, and almost as light as air, these little babies explode into soft yet durable washcloths when introduced to water. Carry them dry, or pack a moistened towel in a zip-top bag. They’re so durable, one towel could potentially be used many times over.

They don’t require much water to transform into a cloth. If you’re away from running water, pop a tablet towel into your cupped hand, and add a couple of teaspoons of water from your water bottle. Presto! It’s ready for action.

Uses of tablet towels

Here are some of the many uses of this versatile travel item.

  • If you’re a “washcloth person,” don’t be surprised to discover that washcloths aren’t as commonly supplied in accommodation in other countries as they are in North America. Travel with your own, or a small collection of tablet towels.
  • Keep a few in your first-aid kit for cleaning abrasions and minor wounds.
  • Use one as a dishtowel when camping, or when one isn’t supplied at your accommodation.
  • When hiking, cycling or planning active days, keep one handy for wiping away perspiration, city grime or trail and road dust.
  • For those long flights, bus trips or train rides, use one to freshen up. For connections, when a “sponge bath” is the closest you’ll come to a shower, carry a pack of soap leaves or your favourite facial wash for combining with a tablet towel.
  • Need to stay alert and not nod off? Reach for a moistened towel.
  • Do you wear nail polish? Unlike cotton balls that tend to disintegrate when removing nail polish, a tablet towel dabbed with a small amount of nail polish remover stays intact.
  • Travelling with children? Need I say more? They’re soft and safe for delicate and sensitive skin.
  • Find yourself without toilet paper? Use tablet towels as a substitute, or in an emergency.
  • Does something need to be strained? Eliminate coffee grounds from your cup of campfire coffee, or the herbs from herbal tea, with a towel tablet used as a strainer.
  • For those who’ve never seen or heard of tablet towels, demonstrating how they work is worth it for the entertainment value. As such, they make great gifts for the uninitiated.

Buying tips

There are lots on the market. I’ve used Tow Tabs, Wysi Wipes and my local dollar store brand, “Magic Towels.”

Compressed, they all seem to be much the same size and weight. Each one expands to 8 in / 20 cm wide, and between 10 in / 25 cm and 12 in / 30 cm long, with Wysi Wipes being the largest. They’ve all performed well, with no discernable difference from my perspective.

For the health of yourself, your family and the planet, look for tablet towels that are biodegradable, and don’t contain any added chemicals or artificial fragrances. Depending on how you use each one, you can always add your favourite product to get the job done.

Availability, price and packaging might influence your choices. Personally, I’m not as keen on the dollar store variety with each one in an individual blister pack. I prefer less packaging, for environmental reasons. Besides, I like to pack what I need in small zip-top craft bags. If you need a more robust container, an empty prescription bottle, waterproof match container or something similar works well.

This way, a person could place the desired quantities in a purse, first-aid kit, comfort pack, toiletries kit, bug out bag, tackle box, diaper bag or glove compartment – wherever for whenever one will be most needed.

Expect to pay between 8 and 16 cents per tab, depending on how many you buy. Some come with travel containers, which adds to the cost.

Have you used tablet towels? What was your experience?

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